The first full cycle of the Tsawwassen First Nation's self-government has been a highly productive one, but there's still much to be done.
In an interview with the Optimist, TFN Chief Kim Baird expressed elation with the job done by her First Nation's first post-treaty legislature, which has been operating under the unfamiliar territory of self-governance.
"It's been daunting because we've had to create brand new policies and procedures for a brand new governance structure. Now that we're working our way through it, we have an annual reporting cycle that we're constantly refining as well, but at least now we're getting to the point where we're refining things," Baird said.
The TFN legislative assembly held a series of meetings at the First Nation's recreation centre as well as the longhouse.
The final spring session wrapped up March 15.
The next gathering of the legislature will feature a newly elected government. Nominations will take place in June and the election for council and chief will be held in September.
The Tsawwassen First Nation's treaty, the first negotiated under the B.C. Treaty Commission process, legally took effect on April 3, 2009.
It gives the TFN the constitutional authority to make laws and set its own course, leaving the much-maligned Indian Act as nothing more than a bleak memory.
Laws are passed by the Tsawwassen legislature, the highest governing body of the TFN. Regulations are passed by the executive council, a smaller group made up of members of the legislature.
"The treaty and related agreements present Tsawwassen First Nation with modern governance tools, coupled with funds, to generate increased economic vitality. It makes Tsawwassen First Nation an equal partner in government-to-government relationships with Canada and British Columbia, and provides for strong and workable interactions with these partners," according to the B.C. Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
Since the treaty came into effect, the Tsawwassen government has passed about two dozen acts ranging from the Tsawwassen Constitution Act and Judicial Proceedings Act to the Children and Families Act and Economic Development Act.
Baird said they are still busy working on new policies.
"We still have a ton of policies to get through. Our policy guys have a list of two dozen policy subjects that they want to work on at any given time... So we just have to make sure we're patient and do quality work on everything we're working on."
Since the treaty came into effect, the TFN has also been busy mapping an economic development course.
After approving a land use plan, the First Nation is moving forward with a major housing development as well as two huge shopping centres, which will change the retail landscape of the Lower Mainland. The TFN has also been developing its industrial land, working with Port Metro Vancouver, which is keenly interested in the potential opportunities.
The TFN is inviting its members to take part in a two-day consultation workshop at UBC this June to discuss their evolving future. Some of the topics to be covered include the five-year strategic plan, treaty distributions and the proposed waste-to-energy project.